Red-tailed Hawk Showing Off New Skills – Part 2

Part 2 focuses on what I call the “pipe dance” of this young hawk. Part I, published yesterday, includes some preliminaries and more of the background of what was going on here. If you missed that post and have the interest it can be seen here. All images are presented in the order they were taken.

 

1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

After this very young and inexperienced bird (I’m referring to it as a female) had partially dried off following her visit to the spring below the rusty pipe enclosure she contemplated her next move. Several times that morning she “ran the pipe” and she now decided to do it again. Just one side of this sloping rectanguler pipe enclosure is roughly 35-40′ long so she had plenty of rusty runway to practice her developing skills on.

 

 

1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

She started out by heading north and took a great leap or two. I call these maneuvers “fly-hops” because she’s also using her wings.

 

 

1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

But she didn’t go far in that direction before stopping and seeming to wonder (with her still-wet “britches) why she was going that way when she had another alternative and it was downhill.

 

 

1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

So she abruptly turned around and headed south. Sometimes she’d walk and other times she’d fly-hop like this.

 

 

1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

Landings were particularly tricky for this inexperienced young bird because the narrow pipe required that she stick the landing with one foot directly in front of the other – an awkward position to be sure. That’s something she needn’t be concerned about when landing in most other places.

 

 

1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

Even just walking on the narrow pipe…

 

 

1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

was tricky for her and she often had to use her wings to keep from falling.

 

 

1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

But she was a determined young lady…

 

 

1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

so she couldn’t resist jumping…

 

 

1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm, not baited, set up or called in

even if it meant the possibility of a skewed and awkward landing. At this point she still had some distance to go before she reached the end of the pipe but by then she was slightly past me so I didn’t get good looks at her face in those shots.

So the obvious question is what did she do when she reached the end of the pipe?

 

 

1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 400, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 340mm, not baited, set up or called in

She simply took off and landed on a hill some distance away, still trailing the twig sticking out of her butt that had been there the entire time during the “pipe dance”.

As I mentioned earlier she ran the pipe several times that morning. I can only speculate that she was instinctively developing her motor skills and coordination in preparation for more purposeful activities in the future.

And who knows, maybe she was even showing off for me a little…

Ron

 

 

 

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35 comments to Red-tailed Hawk Showing Off New Skills – Part 2

  • Art

    Fun! I sure enjoyed this story, Ron.

  • Chris Sanborn

    OK, maybe it’s just the tequila this evening (though I doubt it), but I have been laughing at the pictures, your narrative and (most of) your readers’ comments! I missed all the fun this morning and so I am winding up the happy hour with your post. This beautiful youngster gives me such a feeling of hope for the future of our wild world. (But I also missed today’s news, so perhaps I am simply deluding myself.) In any case, this is a fabulous follow-up to yesterday’s preview, and I thank you for allowing us to witness the efforts of this young hawk as she learns to become a full-fledged flying machine!

  • Part two has me smiling all over my face just as much as part one.
    And I do love your reference to her britches too.
    Megathanks.
    To you and the determined beauty.

  • Marty K

    Gives new meaning to having a stick up one’s butt! 😉 The first shot shows what a beauty she is — I’m drawn to her magnificent eye again and again!

    With series like today’s and yesterday’s, I especially envy you. I wish I could be sitting in your truck with my binocs! 🙂

  • Mikal Deese

    My gymnastics career would have been a lot more successful if only I had wings as backup. I just knew there was something missing. Crash! Thank you for sharing!

  • Alice Beckcom

    Ron, I like all of it…your lessons, narrative and fascinating photos. I noticed the bird’s feet and its ability to stay on the pipe which drew me back to your blog ‘why the killdeer don’t perch’. Your lessons sometimes [I wish more] stick with me!! Thanks for great photos.

  • April Olson

    Wonderful series. I believe birds play like humans, it is all part of learning.
    Haley took in what we believe is a Harlan’s Redtail Hawk while I was out of town. It is at the rehab now, it was in very bad shape. Don’t know if it will make it. It is the darkest redtail I have seen. The cere and feet were blue, could be partly due to the sever dehydration too. It will be a beauty if it survives.

  • Trudy Brooks

    Those are great pictures and comments you made. I am sure it was so much fun to watch. You might forget to take pictures for just watching. Lots of laughs I am sure. You need to have a video camera set up also. What good times you must have.

  • Nancy Blake

    Great series, Ron, I love them all. While watching eagle webcams, I have often seen eagles “fleap” (fly-leap) but I don’t think I would say that this hawk “flop”ed during her practice. (Hope that did not make you groan).

  • Sharon Constant

    Wonderful! I love these images and the narration. It helps start my day out with a smile.

  • Patty Chadwick

    A wonderul, funny, entertaining series…when she crosses the Grand Canyon on that high wire, you can say, “I remember her when….”

  • Gary Dunning

    Extremely well done Ron. This is so hilarious it’s hard imagining you looking through the view finder for down right cracking up. Your professional cred and brilliant commentary are in magnificent form. Thank you!!

    • What a nice comment, Gary.

      You’re right – it was very funny to watch and I’m sure I missed some shots for laughing. Thankfully she gave me many opportunities.

  • Susan Stone

    This is a wonderful series. I’m sure her newly learned motor skills will serve her well. Hope she has a long and successful life. And I’m glad you were able to spend the time with her and share that with us.

  • Laura Culley

    Awwww! What a spectacular series of shots! I love the tenacity. The young ones have no idea what they can’t do and often keep trying until they CAN do it, whatever IT is!
    I noticed that stick stuck in those fluffy under tail coverts (those simply elegant feathers). It reminded me of the day Mariah got into some burdock and there were five of six bundles stuck in in there! What a trial getting her out of that mess. I think it took us three or four days, both she and I working the problem together to get it all out of those elegant fluffy feathers.
    You just gotta love redtails!

    • “The young ones have no idea what they can’t do and often keep trying until they CAN do it”

      That’s it exactly, Laura. This bird was very persistent. Makes me wonder if its siblings did something similar while I wasn’t there to witness it.

  • Sarah Hamilton

    She made me smile. Such a beauty.

  • Joanne OBrien

    Very enjoyable and educational set of photos. I love to watch birds do the things they do! Especially young ones! Thanks for these pics!

  • Judy Gusick

    Cool! Looked like she was having fun mastering her body….:) Great capture, Ron! 🙂